Of the twelve sons of Jacob, I’ve always been fascinated with Judah. He was the one selected by God to be the forebear of the distant and coming Messiah.
But, why Judah??
He seemed like a pretty shady fellow. Here’s his laundry list:
- He took a Canaanite woman to be his wife. And we can guess how that went over knowing the great pains his father took not to marry a Canaanite.
- Then Judah’s two oldest sons turned out so vile that God had to slay them both.
- Then when Judah’s wife died, he went out and got himself a prostitute (which actually turned out to be his daughter-in-law!).
- And Judah happens to be the one who hatched the idea of selling Joseph into slavery.
Although he made some hideous choices with his life God’s plan remained and God’s grace prevailed.
And check out the transformation — From Genesis 37 to 44.
In Genesis 37…
we learn that Joseph was the family favorite. For example, his father got Joseph – and no one else – a cool designer jacket. This was probably just one of the many special favors heaped upon the lil twirp. And Judah and the rest of his brothers could hardly stomach the sight! In comparison with their father’s love for Joseph they felt like vermin. And out in the fields one day Judah’s venom shot through his teeth, “Come, let us sell him to the Ishmaelites” (Gen. 37:27a). And they did so, dipped the designer jacket in blood, and handed it to their father – reducing the man to liquid sorrow. A vile thing to do.
Then in Genesis 44…
we see a different person. God’s grace prevailed! Since Joseph was gone from the scene a new son emerged as dad’s favorite: Benjamin. This was logical. Benjamin and Joseph were the only children of Rachel, dad’s favorite wife. Judah and the rest of his brothers still remained on the fringes of their father’s heart. But over time, instead of being threatened by it, Judah embraced it. Now he sought to protect Benjamin for the sake of his father. Ironically, he finds himself standing before Joseph (the ruler of Egypt) unaware of who he was. Joseph claimed to make Benjamin his own. And instead of seeking to sell his brother, this time he sought to redeem him.
“Please let [me] remain instead of the boy as a servant to [you] and let the boy go back with his brothers” (Gen. 44:33).
Wow. That’s a very Messiah-like thing to do!
No, no, no… don’t let him perish. Allow me to take his place and let the boy go to his father. That’s substitutionary atonement at it’s finest. A great example of what his own Son would perform in a distant time.
You know… as long as we are walking this earth change is possible. Our bad choices is not the end of the road. I think this example gives us hope that grace can indeed win the day… even in spite of us! For from a deeply flawed Judah emerged a royal lineage, beginning with King David and culminating in the present-day reign of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Change is always possible, but regardless of our change God can still produce beautiful things out of our lives.